VA Hearing Loss Claim Rating

Updated: May 1, 2023
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    Hearing loss and hearing damage affect nearly 30 million people in America, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs official site. Hearing problems such as tinnitus are described by the VA as among “the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.” More than half of people older than 75 years old will experience some form of hearing loss or hearing-connected issues.

    What is the maximum VA rating for hearing loss? This question and others are important for veterans filing VA medical claims for service-connected hearing damage. Since hearing loss or damage is one of the most common VA medical claims, it is helpful to understand how the VA approaches such claims.

    VA Ratings For Hearing Loss: The Basics

    Hearing loss issues that may be service-connected and those that are aggravated by military service can be found in the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities, also known by the official title, 38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities.

    There are many reasons why a veteran may need to file a hearing-related VA medical claim, aside from tinnitus or loss of hearing or degradation of hearing. These include the following, described by the VA as ear disabilities:

    • Cancer in the ear
    • Inner-ear problems causing dizziness, referred to as peripheral vestibular disorders
    • Loss of one or both ears
    • Perforated eardrums
    • Meniere’s syndrome or endolymphatic hydrops
    • Peripheral vestibular disorder
    • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
    • Chronic otitis externa
    • Chronic suppurative otitis media
    • Chronic nonsuppurative otitis media (serous otitis media)

    This is not an all-inclusive list, but it is a good example of the types of issues veterans may face. Ear-related issues can also include certain infections. Consult with a doctor to learn which conditions may or may not apply to you.

    The VA recognizes hearing loss that may be reversible through medical procedures and problems that may be irreversible or managed only through hearing aids. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states only one in five Americans who need hearing aids use them.

    VA documents on compensation for service-connected hearing loss or damage recognize two kinds of issues vital to veterans who need to make VA medical claims:

    • Conductive hearing loss caused by damage to the eardrum and related parts of the ear. This kind of hearing loss may be reversible through medical care, depending on the circumstances.
    • Sensorineural hearing loss due to damage to the inner ear and auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss is permanent but can be mitigated in varying degrees through the use of hearing aids.

    VA Ratings for Hearing Loss, Ear Loss and Diseases of the Ear

    The following are descriptions of ear-related medical conditions and their VA-rating percentages, found in the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities. These ratings are subject to change depending on legislation, VA policy, presidential directives or other factors.

    Always consult a VA representative about your condition, the amount of compensation and any special requirements to apply for or receive compensation or VA benefits related to these conditions. You may need updates on current policy or pending legislation.

    Condition: Hearing impairment

    VA disability rating: Dependent on the level of hearing impairment, as determined by an examination by a state-licensed audiologist and the results of a controlled speech discrimination test and a puretone audiometry test, and can range from 0-100%.

    Condition: Chronic suppurative otitis media, mastoiditis or cholesteatoma in any combination

    VA disability rating: 10%

    Condition: Chronic nonsuppurative otitis media with effusion (serous otitis media)

    VA disability rating: Dependent on the amount of hearing loss associated with the condition

    Condition: Otosclerosis

    VA disability rating: Dependent on the amount of hearing loss associated with the condition

    Condition: Peripheral vestibular disorders

    VA disability rating: Based on severity. When this condition causes occasional dizziness, the rating is 10%. When the condition causes dizziness and staggering, it is 30%. According to the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities, “Objective findings supporting the diagnosis of vestibular disequilibrium are required,” and the VA cannot assign a disability rating for this condition until that is done. “Hearing impairment or suppuration shall be separately rated and combined,” according to the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities.

    Condition: Meniere’s syndrome (endolymphatic hydrops)

    VA disability rating: Based on severity. According to the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities, Hearing impairment issues with this syndrome featuring “attacks of vertigo and cerebellar gait” that happen more than once per week (with or without tinnitus) receive a 100% rating. The rating for hearing impairment “with attacks of vertigo and cerebellar gait” happening “one to four times per month, with or without tinnitus,” is 60%. Hearing impairment issues that include “vertigo less than once a month, with or without tinnitus,” receive a 30% rating.

    Condition: Loss of auricle (ear)

    VA disability rating: Depends on severity. Loss of both ears receives a rating of 50%, while loss of one ear receives a 30% rating. Those with a “deformity” and/or partial loss may receive compensation at 10%, depending on circumstances.

    Condition: Malignant neoplasm (described as “other than skin only”)

    VA disability rating: 100%. Ratings of 100% “continue beyond the cessation of any surgical, radiation treatment, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedure,” according to the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities. Six months after the end of treatment, the VA may require an examination to review the disability rating.

    Condition: Benign neoplasms of the ear (other than skin only)

    VA disability rating: Depends on loss of function

    Condition: Chronic otitis externa

    VA disability rating: Depends on the condition. For “swelling, dry and scaly or serous discharge” and related symptoms that require frequent, prolonged treatment, the VA disability rating is 10%.

    Condition: Tympanic membrane perforation (perforated ear)

    VA disability rating: 0%

    Condition: Recurrent tinnitus

    VA disability rating: 10%. This rating applies whether the ringing or other sound is present in both ears or only one ear.

    VA Help for Service-Connected Hearing Issues

    If you experience any hearing loss, damage, ear-related disease or other conditions related to hearing, get evaluated as soon as possible. It’s important to let the VA decide whether you are eligible for benefits related to these types of conditions. VA benefits for service-connected (or service-aggravated) hearing issues can include monetary compensation, hearing aids, service animals and more, depending on circumstances.

    Service members will be required to meet with a VA audiologist to qualify for certain kinds of hearing-related medical benefits, payments and equipment.

    Written by Team